Wednesday’s Google Doodle celebrates the late Margaret Ogola’s 60th Birthday, a Kenyan novelist who composed The River and the Source and its sequel, I Swear by Apollo.
“This strength and support that is found in the African family is the most important part of our culture and should be preserved and nurtured at all costs.” Margaret Ogola.
The River and the Source follow four generations of Kenyan women in a rapidly changing country and society. The book won her the 1995 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for the ‘Best First Book in Africa’.
Born on this day in 1958, Kenyan author, pediatrician, and human rights advocate Margaret Ogola graduated from the University of Nairobi, oversaw over 400 health centers in Kenya, worked with HIV-positive orphans, and also wrote the award-winning novel, The River and The Source.
Her literary debut focuses on the lives of several generations of Kenyan women, starting in a rural 19th-century village and tracing the descendants of a matriarch named Akoko all the way to modern-day Nairobi. Along the way, the novel addresses political and cultural changes as well as the AIDS crisis, always highlighting the role of women in African society. After being rejected by various publishers, Ogola’s novel went on to win the 1995 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature and the 1995 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book.
“The inspiration for this book came from my mother,” said Dr. Ogola, “who handed down to me the wisdom and lives of her own mother and grandmother.” Highlighting the courage of African women in their everyday lives, Dr. Ogola’s book became required reading for many Kenyan secondary school students.
In addition to writing two other novels, a biography, and a book on parenting, Dr. Ogola practiced at Kenyatta National Hospital and served as Medical Director of Cottolengo Hospice for HIV and Aids orphans. She was also the country coordinator of the Hope for Africa Children Initiative, a partnership of NGOs including World Vision, CARE, Society for Women and AIDS, and Save the Children. In 1999, Dr. Ogola was honored with the Familias Award for Humanitarian Service of the World Congress of Families in Geneva, Switzerland.